The Maldives boasted its August Constitution to be an exemplary work of liberal Islamic democracy – a first of its kind for the world. Elections for a new president under the new constitution was initially dragged at snail’s speed and then rushed to meet the October 10th deadline imposed by the constitution. News laws have been put in place, along with the Elections Commission, Judicial Services Commission, the Supreme Court; and the Anti Corruption Board would be in place within the next few days.
Yet, fresh criteria of eligibility has been imposed for standing in the elections, by the first ever independent elections commission of the Maldives. This requirement passed into law asks independent presidential candidates to submit signatures of 1500 persons (to be collected within five days) who support their candidacy; which is a gross violation of the constitution according to famous lawyer Idham Muiz Adnan who has announced his desire to run the presidential race. Presidential candidate of Social Liberal Party, Ibra, has also said that he would challenge the legality of the October 8th Elections.
The Elections Commission has also given a period of just seven days, for those residing in islands other than their registered localities. This would be that for the first time in history, around 35000 people living in Male’ – who are registered in other localities will have to do it within this short period of time. It is yet unclear how the process will be managed and meaningfully verified in such a rush manner.
If the past is anything to go by, it is very clear that a large number of people who reside in Male’ and are registered to other localities will be denied their right to vote due to a technicality. Key officials argue that it would be the problem of the voters if they do not register themselves in time, and should be not be taken as the responsibility of the government and the state institutions including the parliament who claim they have become independent of the executive for the first time.
The major political parties, key government institutions and officials argue that this would be a free and fair election; and that these minor abnormalities cannot be avoided and should be accepted, in the true spirit of the new constitution and the democracy that it has brought alongwith.
The ordinary folk can only ponder at the “dictatorial and militant” nature of the parliament and the state institutions (compelled by the constitutions according to them) in the first few weeks immediately following the New Dawn to a true democracy. They seem to be far more “blind” to due process and democratic principles than the “dictatorship” that they replaced.
What a Shame! The people are a marginalized minority in the best interest of the political power brokers.